October 2023 Prayer Devotional Blog

Praise in Hard Times 

Reflecting on our women’s event last weekend, I hope you are feeling encouraged as I am that our brains are wired for sanctification and transformation! It is a good reminder for someone like me, who can naturally tend toward the downcast or very easily see the doom and gloom in life. If you find yourself with a general disposition toward being downcast, or in a season that leaves you feeling that there is nothing worthy of praise in your life, you are not alone! Maybe you think it’s realism and it would be dishonest to approach God with thanks when all you feel is hurt, discouragement, or general dissatisfaction with how life is playing out. However, our praise of God should not be a rose-colored glasses approach, denying our struggles and very real emotions. Rather, we are tending and pruning our hearts in a way that prepares us to see God’s hand in our lives, even in the challenging times. I can speak firsthand to seasons I had prepared the “soil of my heart” unknowingly for a season of challenge that was to come. I spent one particular season reflecting on one my favorite verses:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17
Then life happened and I was faced with the kind of problem that just makes you ask, “Why, God?” I hadn’t realized though that I had been training my heart to see God’s good in even this situation. Of course, like Peter stepping out of the boat there is the temptation to look at the waves surrounding us but I had, like we learned in our Prayerful Praise event, created new pathways in my brain that made it easier to lead my thoughts back to praise!
The seasons when I cultivate praise stand out starkly against the ones in which I have not. In my life, for every season of cultivation like the one mentioned above, there are countless other legitimately good seasons in which I can’t help but point out all that still isn’t “right.” I correct God and have the habit of nit picking all I would be doing different if I were in His shoes. I’ve noticed hard times hit harder when I am in this frame of mind.
Even if there is truly nothing wonderful happening in your life–the bank account and pantry are empty, relationships are broken, and nothing makes sense–God is working things together for your good, sister in Christ! Or perhaps you find yourself thinking that actually all is going good—either way let’s take some time to look to The One who holds both ends of the spectrum in His hands.
Join me in taking up a practice that I have too long put to the side. Take out your prayer journal, take a meditative walk, or sit with God and reflect on these things:
  • Focus on the praiseworthy attributes of God. If you need prompts for these, consider the following:
  • God is Healer—1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live by righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
  • God is Just—Deuteronomy 32:3-4 – I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
  • God is Unchanging—James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
  • God is Creator—Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
  • God is Powerful—Isaiah 40:28-31 – Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
  • God is Faithful—Psalm 107:1 – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
  • The accounts of Jesus in Scripture show us what God’s character looks as it walked the earth and talked with humanity. Revisit a favorite portion of the Gospels to remember what Jesus’s character reveals about who God is. Develop a prayer or journal entry based on what you discover (or rediscover!) there.
  • If you are having a hard time believing in who God says He is, pick one or two qualities that you need Him to be in your life (comforter, healer, provider, etc.) and ask that He reveal Himself to you today.
  • Now look to your day and what you are grateful for. You may think nothing good has happened, but I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you woke up this morning, there is breath in your lungs and blood pumping through your body. Even if this is all you have to be thankful for, offer up praise to God for gifting you another day. You might also consider asking him for eyes to see more of what he’s given so that you can turn back to him with gratitude.
  • Bonus prompt! If you are feeling ready to offer more praise to the Lord of the universe, spend some time praising Him for all He is doing in the world to bring His glory to fruition. From the majesty of His creation, how He is working in a friend’s life, your community, and even worldwide! Voice of the Martyrs is an organization that offers stories of missionaries and Christians worldwide living for God in absolutely inspiring ways, I often turn to them to remind me that God is on the move in so many ways that I cannot possibly know about.
I pray that God would bless our attempts to turn our hearts to Him, that He would open our eyes to His glory and that we would be quick to lift up praise to our Creator!

This prayer devotional was written by Abigail Alm. In addition to having a bubbly personality and quick laugh, Abigail has a clear heart for others and is always willing to pitch in with a helping hand. She loves everything that has to do with the outdoors–hiking, rock climbing, horses–and getting to share those things with other people. She also loves watching how God is in all the things of life, big and small. This is Abigail’s first year serving on the GCC Women’s Ministry Leadership Team.
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